As a 10-year-old girl, all Gillian Wood Pultz wanted for Christmas was a cat.
Since then, Wood Pultz, now the executive director of the Southold Town Animal Shelter, has dedicated her life to animals. Her experiences over the years have taken her through many challenging roles and adventures.
At 19 Wood Pultz decided she wanted to become a veterinarian. But after interning in a veterinarian's office, she decided that the surgical part of the profession was not for her.
Around this same time former executive director of the Town of Southold Animal Shelter Gwen George was looking to fill the position of kennel manager, and offered it to Wood Pultz. Within one year, when George became ill and had to stop working, Wood Pultz immediately stepped up and filled the position of executive director.
Wood Pultz has made many positive changes to the shelter, such as continuously updating all programs and services, starting a feral cat program, opening a much-needed food pantry, creating educational programs and convincing the town to build a new shelter facility.
But Wood Pultz knows she doesn't run the shelter alone — she gives credit and praise to the committed people who work alongside her today.
"Currently, the has the best staff in my history with this organization," she said
Gabby Glantzman, shelter office manager, returned the compliment: "I have a huge amount of respect for Gillian — she's someone I admire."
Wood Pultz said she has accomplished her initial goal to expand the North Fork Animal Welfare League's scope. But Pultz, her staff and league board members aren't stopping there. They dedicate a lot of their own time in not only helping their own shelter animals but participating in rescue efforts near and far.
After Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of the southeast coast in 2005, Wood Pultz and her staff travelled to New Orleans, where they provided round-the-clock animal rescue and relief that continued long after the storm passed.
Further south, Wood Pultz volunteers her own time in Mexico, where she helps out the organization ViDAS, which sets up clinics to perform necessary spays and neuters and other necessary medical procedures. This work in Mexico affirms Wood Pultz's strong sense to help others.
"I believe in sharing resources with those who don't have them and helping those who can't help themselves," she said.
Wood Pultz said she also strongly believes that rescue groups need to work together.
"Coalition building is one of the most important tools in solving the animal overpopulation problem," she said.
Though Wood Pultz has never shied away from problem-solving, politics is one aspect of running an animal shelter she likes to avoid.
"Unless you see a direct correlation, a direct adverse effect, or the potential of adverse effect towards the animals — avoid politics," she said.
Wood Pultz and her crew have earned a stellar national reputation on how to run an animal shelter. Even though she's had some thoughts about how she'd retire someday — those dreams quickly fade into the scenery for this passionate animal shelter director.
"Until there are no more stray animals, we'll be here," she said.